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President enrolls for Obamacare but won’t use it

By JOSH LEDERMAN
December 24, 2013

030213obamacare-554x346He won’t use it, and he didn’t actually sign up for it himself, but President Barack Obama has enrolled for health coverage through the new insurance exchanges.

Announcing his enrollment Monday, the White House called it a symbolic show of Obama’s support for the fledgling exchanges where millions of Americans must buy insurance or face a penalty. Ironically, it also served as a reminder of just how complex and sometimes daunting the process can be.

Obama, like so many other Americans, couldn’t use the website.

“The complicated nature of the president’s case required an in-person sign-up,” the White House said.

White House officials noted that for security reasons, the president’s personal information is not readily available in government databases that the exchanges use to verify identities and check eligibility for tax subsidies.

But millions of other Americans have faced website glitches that made signing up through the exchanges difficult or impossible, particularly in the initial weeks before massive fixes to the site were put in place.

Unable to offer a camera-friendly photo-op of the president breezing through an improved HealthCare.gov, the White House quietly announced on Monday that, sometime over the weekend, aides had enrolled Obama through an in-person enrollment site while the president was vacationing in Hawaii.

“The president enrolled in a health care plan made available by the Affordable Care Act on the D.C. marketplace,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in an email.

As commander in chief, the president receives his health care through the military, so his new coverage will go unused. Rather, the move fulfills a commitment to personally participate that Obama made in 2010, when he signed into law the Affordable Care Act requiring millions of uninsured Americans to buy insurance or face a penalty.

Obama selected a “bronze” plan, the least-expensive plan available for someone his age. The White House said the plan Obama chose will cost him less than $400 a month. The president’s wife and daughters, who already have health care, did not enroll. Obama plans to keep paying the premiums at least thru the rest of his Presidency, according to the White House.

Because of the president’s income level and the fact that his job provides health care, he won’t be eligible for tax subsidies that many lower-income Americans receive to offset the premium price. The president will pay the full premium himself.

Obama’s enrollment in the exchange came just before Monday’s deadline for Americans to sign up for insurance and still receive coverage starting Jan. 1. But even that deadline came with a caveat, underscoring the degree to which the implementation of Obama’s top legislative achievement is still a work in progress.

Anticipating heavy website traffic by those looking to beat the deadline, the Obama administration effectively extended it by a day, giving people in 36 states a one-day grace period to select a plan.

The White House said a vacationing Obama received a detailed update on Sunday about preparations for that and other deadlines, and would continue to be briefed throughout his stay in Honolulu.

By the afternoon, the website had received a record 850,000 visits, five times the number logged by the same time last Monday, the administration said.

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Reach Josh Lederman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP

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Copyright  © 2013 Capitol Hill Blue

Copyright  © 2013 The Associated Press  All Rights Reserved.

2 Responses to President enrolls for Obamacare but won’t use it

  1. David

    December 26, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    “Obama selected a “bronze” plan, the least-expensive plan available for someone his age. The White House said the plan Obama chose will cost him less than $400 a month. The president’s wife and daughters, who already have health care, did not enroll. Obama plans to keep paying the premiums at least thru the rest of his Presidency, according to the White House.”

    So Obama signed up for a plan that will cost him about $4500 a year. The bronze plan has a deductible of about $4300 a year. So you need to spend $8800 a year on medical care before your “coverage” kicks in.

    Does anybody in the White House have any clue what low-income people make in a year? Do they really believe low-income people have $8800 lying around? And do tax subsidies help if you don’t pay any income tax to begin with?

    And what is up with not getting coverage for the family? Was it so we wouldn’t see just how much bigger the bill and deductible would be? Or are low-income fathers expected to leave their wives and children uncovered?

    This is yet another demonstration that the average individual is better off not getting any “insurance” and setting that money aside as savings to pay medical bills that come up and the tax penalty. A trip to Mexico for treatment will probably be more cost-effective.

  2. Pablo

    December 27, 2013 at 4:39 am

    @ David

    I totally agree with what you’re saying, but the idea behind minimum coverage is that people can still handle a lot of the little stuff (and I’m definitely under the definition of “low income” myself) but you are covered from the nasty stuff, which can easily break the $10,000 amount, much less the $100,000 level. Heck, simple and routine knee-replacement surgeries are pushing the edge of $50,000 in my area.

    Also, the low-income people will likely get their insurance premiums 100% covered, so they only have to deal with the $4300 deductible that you mentioned. If they can set aside the money they’d otherwise be using to pay for the insurance in the first place, they’ll have that annual deductible covered.

    Then don’t forget that there is also the option of upgrading to a Silver plan which they might have to pay a bit more for (for example, family of four earning about $35k, pays about $125/month in my area) there is zero deductible or co-pay because you get put into a pool to share expenses.